Kagan's Kindle vs. Scalia's iPad

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia at official photo session on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court in Washington.

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When I interviewed Justice Antonin Scalia at last month's Federalist Society dinner, it surprised me to learn the 74-year-old justice is enthusiastically technologically savvy. Not only does he read Supreme Court briefs on his iPad, he even loads his favorite music (all classical) onto his iPod.

When you think of the tradition-bound Supreme Court, there's a tendency to imagine the justices still writing opinions with quill pens, as they ponder the great legal questions in their hushed chambers.

But that obviously is not today's Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, the Court's newest justice, tells C-Span she likes to read briefs on her Kindle.

In an interview that updates C-SPAN's impressive October 2009 documentary on the Supreme Court, Kagan says technology means the justices don't have to lug so many stacks of briefs around when they're delving into the cases.

"You know I saw Justice Scalia, he said that he had them on an iPad and I thought, 'huh, maybe I should have them on an iPad,'" she told C-SPAN. "But mine are on a Kindle, and I also of course you know sometimes truck them around just on hard copy. So I do both."

Kagan pointed out that in some cases, there will be upwards of 50 friend-of-the-court briefs, in addition to the filings by the parties involved.

"So there is a lot of reading," she said. "And you know that's a big part of the job and if a Kindle or an iPad can make it easier, that's terrific."

Kagan also talks about the steep learning curve new justices face, as well as her warm welcome by the Chief Justice. The interview will air on C-SPAN on Dec. 19.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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